Pa. man admits $423K fraud on fake Holy Land trips

By the Associated Press | January 30, 2012 | 1:55 PM EST

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Pennsylvania man admits he took hundreds of thousands of dollars from mostly elderly church members on the false promise he would book them trips to the Holy Land.

John Baird pleaded guilty Monday to mail fraud in the scam that bilked 138 church members out of $423,000.

Authorities say the 74-year-old Elkins Park man told his victims their money would book them on trips to the Middle East and religious sites in Europe, but the trips never happened.

KYW-AM (http://cbsloc.al/yssD65 ) reports that prosecutors have evidence Baird enlisted the help of unwitting church leaders to help sign up his victims.

Sentencing is scheduled for May.

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Information from: KYW-AM, http://www.kyw1060.com